Concerns about E. coli prompt ground beef recall in Western Canada

OTTAWA – Federal health officials are recalling packages of ground beef produced by food giant Cargill due to concerns about E. coli.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said Tuesday there have been no reported illnesses related to the recalled products, but advised people to throw out or return packages to the store where they were bought.

The meat carries the Your Fresh Market brand name and was sold at Walmart stores in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The extra lean ground beef sirloin, extra lean ground beef, medium ground beef and lean ground beef was sold in 475-gram, 900-gram and 1.6-kilogram packages. All carry a best-before date of either Nov. 28 or 29.

Cargill spokeswoman Connie Tamoto said E. coli 0157 was found in a random sample of ground beef that had been packaged at a Calgary case-ready facility on Nov. 19. She did not know which slaughterhouse the beef came from.

Winnipeg-based Cargill Meat Solutions has two processing plants in Canada: one in High River, Alta., and the other in Guelph, Ont.

“Obviously food safety is critical to us,” said Tamoto. “We’re doing everything we can to work with the CFIA and Health Canada to make sure they have everything they need as they continue to investigate the situation.”

She said the recall involves about 14,000 kilograms, or 14 tonnes, of ground beef.

The largest beef recall in Canadian history involved 4,000 tonnes of beef — some 1,800 products — that were pulled from the North American market in 2012. XL Foods Inc. operated the meat-packing plant in Brooks, Alta., that was linked to the E. coli 0157 outbreak. Eighteen people fell ill.

The CFIA warns that food contaminated with E. coli O157 may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, mild to severe abdominal cramps and watery to bloody diarrhea.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said the largest beef recall in Canadian history was four tonnes.